Monday, March 28, 2011

Doing nothing is not an option!

If you have been following my blog, you may have noticed in my past few postings that I have been trying to work out what the Christian response to suffering and injustice should be. Indeed as I have been reading the Bible I cannot shake the reality that God cares deeply for those who are in need and that it is expected that as one of his followers, that I be doing something to bring his grace to those who are hurting. I don’t think that our acting on issues of injustice, poverty or suffering is an option as a Christian. So what can we do? I know that this question can be pretty overwhelming as it seems like there is so much suffering and injustice in our world. However, I sat down the other night and in 20 minutes had a list of ideas that I think that most of us could do in our ordinary lives and would address the things that God cares about. I think that these might be a good place to start. Please take a look and let me know what you think. ~ Josh

Sponsor a child. Check out: or

Be a big brother or big sister (or some other youth mentoring equivalent).  Check out:

Each time you go grocery shopping, buy extra food to donate to the food bank.

Donate money to organizations that provide aid to countries that are war-torn or have been struck by natural disasters. Check out: or

Write a letter to a prisoner. Check out:

Make visiting a hospital or a nursing home a regular part of your week.

Visit those who are shut-in.

Volunteer in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

Vote responsibly. Check out:

Write your Member or Parliament about government policies that affect those who are vulnerable (both here in Canada and in other parts of the world).  Check out:

Be responsible with what you have. Perhaps you can make due with less and use the excess to help others? (e.g. Could someone else benefit from the money you were going to spend on a new cell phone?)

Be a wise consumer. Find out where your products are coming from and what the manufacturer’s labour practices are.

Buy a homeless person a sandwich and a drink. Talk with them.

Befriend an immigrant or refugee. Help them integrate into Canadian society. They will need help finding a place to live, filing paperwork, getting around town, etc.

Befriend that person that everyone tries to avoid (you know who I am talking about!).

Volunteer for a Habitat for Humanity build in your community. Check out:

Pray for God’s justice, mercy and freedom to come soon. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

we gotta change!

A friend just showed me this in class today. It really has made me think. We gotta change the way we approach life!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's Not About Us

Over the course of the past few months, I have found myself overwhelmed by the abundance of troubles that exist in our world and my own feelings of powerlessness in knowing how to deal with them. However, in these feelings of powerlessness I have been struck by one line of the Lord ’s Prayer in Matthew 6:10.  Jesus prays, “...your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  This is part of the model of prayer that Jesus gives in his famous Sermon on the Mount and is intended to be something that his followers emulate. For in praying like Jesus we are acknowledging the reality that God is the ruler of all and that therefore nothing is outside of his hands. He is in charge not us. This should be very freeing. Indeed, praying like Jesus means that we are relinquishing our will, our rights, our desires and opening ourselves to God’s ways. It is an honest statement that our ways are not working and that we are without adequate power to save ourselves or our world. We are in need of God’s intervention. It is a yearning for things to be made right and an openness to God acting in accordance to who he is, not how we think that he should act. It means that we are welcoming God’s priorities and seeking to see them enacted in the world around us.

As Christ followers we live in the tension of waiting for God to finally make all things right but also in the now where God is already at work in his world. Therefore, our prayers are in anticipation of the complete rule of God but are also looking for God to come and bring a taste of his goodness to our present -  so we acknowledge the supremacy of God, submit to his ways and look for him to act. It is no longer about us but about him. However, perhaps as we yield to him, God will use us to bring the grace, love and goodness of his Kingdom into the brokenness of this world.

 It is not about us. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What does worship look like?

I have spent a fair amount of time in the Minor Prophets lately and have been trying to process the implications of what I have been reading. This blog is part of my reflection. I would be happy to receive your feedback on what the implications/application of this are.

The prophet Amos is writing to the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, and is condemning them not for their religious practices but mostly for their neglect of justice and righteousness. This was a nation where the wealthy elite were oppressing the poor in many ways all the while believing that they had God’s favour. But this was not the case. God states plainly that he hates their worship because they have neglected to do justice (5:21-24). They were worshipping God while oppressing the poor and seeking after their own gain. Amos condemns them for human trafficking (2:6), oppression of the poor (Amos 2:7, 4:1, 5:11, 5:12, 8:4), denying justice or perverting justice (Amos 2:7, 5:7, 5:10, 5:13), dishonest business practices that result in cheating the poor (8:5-6), not to mention idolatry and pagan worship practices (2:7-8).  These charges of sin against other people are also proclaimed by other prophets (see: Micah 2:1-2, Habakkuk 2:9-17, Hosea 4:1-2,12:7, and Zephaniah 3:1-4).  

I think that these passages should remind us of something that is close to the heart of God. God really cares about his human creation, particularly those who are vulnerable.  The reality is that God has created humanity in his image and he is jealous to protect that image.  Human beings are created to live in community with God and with one another, not to be used as a means to get rich or viewed as a burden. They have been given great value as God’s image-bearers and as such, God desires that humanity be treated with the dignity and value that God gave.  Indeed the way we take care of each other, particularly those in need, speaks to our understanding of God and the worship that he demands.  In Micah 6:8, God says that he does not want ritual worship but that instead he requires that they act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

I know that as I have pondered this that I have found myself wondering if I am a person who thinks that my faith and worship is fine but have been ignoring how I am a part of the problem of injustice.  I can honestly saying that I do not believe I am contributing to the trafficking of human beings but I do wonder how my life as a middle class Canadian may be contributing to injustice. What can I do to alleviate the suffering that exists in our world and help affirm the dignity of the Divine Image? In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus speaks about caring for those who are in need (the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the prisoner).  In James 1:27 the true religion that is acceptable to God is caring for the widow and the orphan.  What should this look like in real life? Is it more than just making monetary donations? Might it actually mean making due with less, or leaving our comfort zone, for the sake of another?

In closing, please do not think that I am advocating for a faith that is solely based on social action/justice. Rather, I am just thinking out loud about how our knowledge of God and our relationship with Christ should look like in real life.

I look forward to any feedback you may have.
~ Josh